Cobble Hill Village
Settlers began to live in the Cobble Hill area around 1850 and in 1862 passengers from the survey ship HMS Hecate augmented their numbers. When the railroad was completed in 1886 with a station in Cobble Hill, the village began to prosper and grow into a community hub. J. W. Graff, a rail engineer, had a seven room home built near the site of the present Evergreen School. Known as the White House, it became the preeminent local landmark until the railway station was constructed. The station had a comfortable waiting room, ticket and telegraph offices, and a baggage room. A large stockyard completed what became the area focal point and businesses were established in the immediate vicinity to serve a growing population. The Station Hotel, later known as the Wilton Place Hotel was constructed in 1892 and the first post office began to serve the community in 1896. The Good Templars Hall was built near the corner of Cobble Hill and Hutchinson Roads in 1893 providing space for entertainment and other local functions.
Jeune Brothers, a Victoria real estate company, purchased 300 acres in and around Cobble Hill in 1912 and the following year surveyed and registered a 500 lot subdivision forming the village. The Malahat Drive portion of the highway from Victoria opened in 1911 giving greater access to both horse drawn and engine powered vehicles, but the railway remained the main method of transportation. Agricultural products were shipped to the capital and weekend tourists regularly arrived at the Cobble Hill station for a stay at the hotel in what was then ‘the country’.
By 1917 the Garland Block on the north side of Fisher Road, the Walton Building (today’s Cobble Hill Market) and the Bonner Block on the south side of Fisher Road housed various enterprises including a feed store, butcher shop, general store, grocery store, hardware store, bank, barber shop and telephone exchange. A creamery, a blacksmith shop and a school soon joined these. Cobble Hill was a prosperous, busy and bustling community centered by the railroad until the early 1940s. In 1942 the hotel burned to the ground and a short time later the main road from Victoria heading north was rerouted completely bypassing the village. These events were harbingers of the coming decline in Cobble Hill’s fortunes. The hotel was not rebuilt and the new highway provided excellent access to the large trucks that had become the preferred method for moving freight. Local people could easily drive to larger centres for a greater variety of shopping and services as well as for employment opportunities. Over time many of the buildings that helped to form a once vibrant community disappeared and so too did many voices from our past.
The origin of the village name has been the object of considerable conjecture over the years. One suggestion was that it was named after an officer from the HMS Hecate, one Lieutenant Cobble. However, there is no record of such a person having been present aboard the Hecate and the possibility that the place was named after an attractive English village, as is also rumoured, does seem rather more likely.
The Cobble Hill Historical Society meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm in the Youth Hall at 3665 Watson Avenue in Cobble Hill.
Cobble Hill Historical Society
c/o Brenda Krug
785 Red Oak Drive
Cobble Hill, BC V0R 1L4